asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied with the powers available to him to regulate changes in the ownership and control of holders of petroleum production licences.
At present holders of petroleum production licences require consent to assign or part with any of the rights granted by the licence. There are no powers at present to regulate changes in ownership or control of the licensee himself or to control agreements, such as illustrative or royalty agreements, under which a third party in effect shares in the benefits of the licence. Such changes can in practice have the same effect as assignment or parting with the rights of the licence and can therefore, if made without my agreement, frustrate the whole purpose of these necessary controls. This has always been recognised by licensees generally.Nevertheless, I think it desirable to bring forward measures in the forthcoming Petroleum Bill which will put matters into order by requiring all such changes to have my formal consent. Licensees have been made aware of my intention to do this and I expect that in the meantime any proposals for transactions of these kinds will be discussed with me before implementation. In the event of transactions taking place which do not comply with the Government's requirements, I shall be prepared to ask Parliament to give effect to the relevant provision of the Petroleum Bill as from today.